May 30, 2010

More “greenwashing”

In a letter to the Editor of the EMC Kemptville, lawyer David Poch guilelessly repeats the “green” industrial mantra which is wind and solar mean jobs and prosperity and a better world for all. He says MPP Randy Hillier has “misinformed” his constituents in his opposition to the Green Energy Act.

Poch writes: “Most of the initiatives will be wind and solar projects that cost less than the alternative of refurbishing or building new nuclear plants. … [the Green Energy Act] is about kick starting an Ontario industry that will create jobs and drive down the price of renewable power for our future.”

Wrong. Wind doesn’t work. We saw that last week when, with temperatures in Ontario soaring into the 30s, all that Ontario’s 1100 MW capacity wind industry could muster that day was 17 MW. And the estimated demand that day? 22,400 MW. The 17 is not a typo: that is the best they could do.

Wind doesn’t work, simple as that.

And we the taxpayers and ratepayers are paying big bucks for Ontario to follow the path already trodden by Denmark, Spain and Germany to the detriment of their economies.

May 26, 2010

“Learn how to cheat” reporter tells Ontario municipalities

With the Green Energy Act packing Ontario municipalities’ democratic rights and abilities to protect citizens in its pocket now, municipalities are struggling to find ways to get their planning powers back, where wind turbine installations are concerned.

As more developments are planned and built–the corporate wind developers have all but given up the pretense of community “buy-in”–concern grows due to health issues and property values.

One reporter in the Simcoe area has written the following opinion piece on the issue.

  • Chris Fell, Staff,
  • |
  • May 25, 2010 – 4:36 PM
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  • Recommended 0 //
  • Reporter’s Notebook

    Chris Fell.

    To say that opposition to industrial wind turbines invading our rural landscape is growing would be an understatement.

    Several municipalities in Grey and Bruce counties are now pondering the possibility of challenging the McGuinty government’s draconian Green Energy Act through the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

    I hope every municipality in both counties – including the counties themselves – get on board with this possibility. If they all combine their resources, a legitimate challenge is possible. There is strength in numbers and it has to happen now – before these industrial installations destroy our rural countryside.

    Since the Premier of Ontario demolished the land use planning rights of municipalities by passing the Green Energy Act, municipalities that want to preserve their rural landscapes and stop an industrial invasion of the natural environment must look for other options to stop these projects.

    Grey Highlands council has already tabled a road agreement that would allow the wind energy company that wants to put 11 turbines in the southern end of Osprey Township.

    This is exactly what local municipalities must do since their planning authorities were removed by the government.

    Municipalities must look at every bylaw, every provincial/federal statute and every other regulation on the books for ways to stop these projects.

    In layman’s terms: municipalities have to learn how to cheat. To use a more sporting term: they need to find some grey areas in the rule book.

    If turning down the road agreement stops the process – great. If municipalities are really serious about protecting their citizens they have to examine every single option available to them.

    Can special development charges for these proposals be implemented? Who will pay for their decommissioning in years to come?

    Can special building fees be implemented, for tighter controls over these kinds of things?

    Since the projects propose industrial uses in rural/agricultural areas perhaps a special “industrial road toll” can be put in place to ensure the municipality’s roads are kept in top shape.

    Are there old height restrictions on the books? Are there any bylaws on the books governing towers with moving parts (remember, small windmills used to be ubiquitous on family farms of years gone by)? Maybe there are even some old, hand-written bylaws from 1854 that are relevant.

    The point is, the province made this a dirty fight by quashing the planning authority municipalities are charged with. Those planning authorities were designed to be fair and to protect the public

    Mr. McGuinty shouldn’t be surprised when municipalities look under every rock, search through every file cabinet and read every bylaw book to find other ways to protect their citizens.

    May 19, 2010

    Ontario’s power workers: this isn’t going to work

    There was a special “information feature” in the Globe and Mail May 13th, sorry we’re just getting to it now. Next to a feature article by Don McKinnon, president of the Power Workers’ Union, is a colour ad from the union, addessing the amount of money being spent on “green” energy.

    The ad says:


    Ontarians have been told green energy is the best way to lower carbon emissions and create a more competitive economy. Billions are being spent on intermittent wind and solar farms, conservation and natural gas generation.

    Now the pay-offs are coming to light! Steadily rising electricity proces, with higher prices to come. Ontario industries seeking electricity subsidies to remain competitive. Smart meters and special electricity rates that squeeze Ontarians to do their household chores late at night. A province dependent upon price volatile, carbon emitting natural gas generation.

    Meanwhile, the dithering continues in regard to operationally superior, cost effective options, like GHG emission-free nuclear and the use of carbon-neutral biomass in existing coal plants.

    Why shouldn’t Ontarians be purple with rage?

    Good question.

    To see the North Gower Wind Action Group’s page, go to

    or email them at

    May 17, 2010

    Rex Murphy on climate change: remember the hockey stick

    In the weekend National Post, outspoken columnist and radio host Rex Murphy writes about the UN’s Secretary-General “scolding” Canada for not meeting Kyoto targets and offers the following:

    “{Did Mr. Harper] …mention the infamous ‘hockey stick’ global temperature graph–the emblematic, erroneous logo of this whole desperate enterprise?

    “Mr Harper will have done all of us, and the world, a great service if he raised these points, and suggested that the UN’s ability to issue reprimands to anyone on this file has been greatly corroded in the last year.

    “The science of global warming needs a wholesale outside review. In fact, it needs to be taken out from under the umbrella of the United Nations and its ‘process’ altogether. If some of this message was given by Mr Harper to the UN’s chief, the meeting will have been productive and indeed, something of a joy to truth.”

    The environmental costs of industrial wind turbines

    This is not a new article/opinion but nothing has changed:

    The list of environmental costs imposed on wildlife and people are now being recognized

    Wind Turbines; Offensive industrialization of human space

     By Online  Monday, July 28, 2008

    By: Dr. Brian L. Horejsi, Dr. Barrie K. Gilbert, George Wuerthner

    People are barking up the wrong tree by promoting, or succumbing to, wind turbine construction regardless of where it is proposed and how many there might be. Many North Americans are infected with tunnel vision and erroneously appear to believe that turbine generated energy is somehow linked to reversing the growth in and impact of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

    // //

    There exists NO evidence anywhere that Turbine energy is substituting for or displacing fossil fuel dependence, nor is there any evidence that it is in any material way slowing the rate of GHG emission growth. Turbine energy is a non factor in the never ending growth agenda of the fossil fuel industry, and it is not a factor in the agenda of governments promoting growth in and dependence on oil and gas consumption. There can be no better example than North America of the failure of turbine energy to slow growth in anything.

    People have been hoodwinked into promoting wind turbine energy as some sort of Nirvana all while human population growth and per capita energy consumption continue to spiral upward. Turbine energy generation is fueling growth in human population and energy consumption and growth in a false “economy”. It is NOT doing the opposite.

    Matching the folly of the energy replacement misunderstanding is denial by governments and promoters of the ecological impacts and health effects of turbines; the ugly reality is that they are a serious addition to the industrialization of quiet rural landscapes that people have long valued for quality of life, retirement, and recreation.

    The list of environmental costs imposed on wildlife and people are now being recognized; they are far from meaningless, but they have been trivialized by turbine promoters and politicians that have systematically tilted the deck sharply in the developers favor. Environmental costs have been systematically ignored by a political and regulatory system that has corrupted individual and societal freedom and environmental integrity by relegating these values to some distant offshoot of economic growth. These costs, and those who stand by them, are treated with contempt; how dare they influence the decision to grant some landowner a chance to make a buck by carving your backyard and your space into fragments with giant chopping machines?

    Wind turbines are an assault on human well being and act to degrade the human “gestalt”. Promotion of wind turbine energy is a case of serious misjudgment by those who fraudulently use green wash to promote their commercial aspirations.

    Buried deep within the human genome is an innate recognition and suspicion of monsters – large objects – looming on the horizon. Wind turbines are todays versions of a threatening monster, jammed down the throats of neighbors and localities. 30% of the human cortex occupies itself with processing visual information, far more than any other sense, and nothing delivers a more intrusive and intense visual picture than the tower and blades of wind turbines. Turbines erode freedom of the human mind hour after hour, night after day, virtually forever, like a cell phone ringing incessantly and yet no one is able to turn it off. To many people this intrusion into their physical and physiological space is an insidious form of torment. The mental effect is analogous to the physical effects of a heavy smoker sitting next to you essentially for life!

    We do not subscribe to the managerial / market approach to democracy or conservation with its deeply entrenched bias against human values such as an unadulterated horizon. This largely corporate view denigrates the value of freedom of the human spirit – the very pedestal upon which human dignity, character and strength are built.

    In an honest and fair regulatory and political environment, local citizens and communities would bury turbine projects long before they get to the serious implementation stage. Once again, however, citizens are being forced to try and employ the very tools that degrade our quality of life and humiliate us as mere pawns of some corporate created market economy. That being the case, it occurs to us that wind turbines wearing eternally on the human psyche, constituting a “taking” by corporate promoters and biased government collaborators; a taking that damages the well being of all residents. We asked ourselves if $1000 payment per person would compensate for the damages imposed on the ever day life of hundreds and thousands of affected citizens? Not even close. Perhaps then, $3000, or $8000? Would that kind of money make up for the forced collapse of part of your quality of life, your loss of right to space, loss of privacy, loss of political power, curbs on your freedom, and the mental and physical costs imposed on you by stress associated with constant angst, irritation and distraction? For some, we suspect yes would be the answer. For others, like those who have lost a child to negligent corporate behavior, been strangled slowly by nicotine, or been poisoned by toxic emissions or effluent, no amount of money can compensate for the deprivation and harm they have and will suffer. Regardless of the compensatory damages you might place on that part of your life lost because of turbine industrialization, should you not be compensated for this taking?

    The commercial private sector is forcing itself into your life, and that constitutes a taking of your rights, benefits and well being. We propose that each person impacted by a turbine receive, as a starting point for negotiations, $3000 annually, to be paid by the developer for the loss of private and citizen rights, a very large portion of which includes peace and satisfaction, a critical part of your state of mind. We all know that is a significant part of personal, social and democratic well being. The concept is simple; if the developer and some uncaring land owners want to destroy your rights and those of other citizens, inflicting on you suffering and mental distress, the good old “free” enterprise system developers and local governments love to hide behind, comes into play; they pay to destroy part of your life. There has to be pain and resistance in the system for those who knowingly exploit the public and individual vulnerability, a now institutionalized vulnerability which commercial and private sector interests worked hard to establish.

    The recent proliferation of wind turbine farms is just one more case of the serious aggression and destruction that reflects the continuing expansion of an extremist private property and commercialism agenda. This socially, legally and politically defective agenda and process is being exploited by corporations, some local residents, and local governments. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not freedom and it is not democracy; it is vandalism and oppression in the name of commercialism. As citizens we have the right, and we say the obligation, and we must marshal the courage, to reject wind turbine invasions as a corruption of our well being that is cached “in our spirit rather than in our wallet”.

    Dr. Brian L. Horejsi

    Behavioral scientist and citizen advocate for democratic process
    Box 84006, PO Market Mall
    Calgary, Alberta, T3A 5C4


    Dr. Barrie K. Gilbert
    Wildlife Ecologist and conservation activist
    Box 252
    Wolfe Island, Ontario KOH 2HO


    George Wuerthner,
    Ecologist and writer.
    POB 719, Richmond,
    Vermont 05477
    28 July 2008

    May 14, 2010

    The rural revolt

    From today’s Toronto Sun:

    Wind revolt won’t die

    Rural opposition to massive turbine farms in the countryside won’t blow over


    Last Updated: May 14, 2010 12:00am

    Employees of the wind industry and Ontario Liberal politicians are scratching their heads. Why the fuss about wind turbines?

    Some of them still think the furor will blow over. It’s just the griping of a few malcontents and health quacks — people who wear tinfoil helmets in their living rooms to ward off spy beams. The march of progress can’t be stopped. The Green Energy Act is law, turbines are coming to the countryside and that’s it.

    Here’s a tip, from the hinterland. This is incorrect. The furor is building, not waning. Premier Dalton McGuinty was already a long shot for a third term. With wind in the mix and barring a radical re-do of the Green Energy Act, he is positioned to lose every rural and small-town seat.

    People who live in the country do so by choice. Some stay because we wish to raise our children close to family. Others leave to pursue a career and then eventually come home. And others still, mainly boomers, retire to a small town or a farm because they’re tired of city life.

    People who live in small towns or on farms are connected to the countryside in a way that most city people are not. We hunt, fish, cycle, hike, walk or drive through it all the time. Many residents of small towns are linked through family to a farm or plot of land.

    For 30 years now, people who live on or near the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Preserve, have lived within the strictures of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. This appointed body tells rural people what they can or cannot build on their property.

    There are many rules. They do not account for family circumstances or in many cases for common sense. For example, the NEC won’t permit a landowner to build a second home on a 100-acre plot of land to house an ailing parent. Yet it does permit the Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, Ont.

    Despite these seeming contradictions, farmers and landowners have grudgingly learned to live with the NEC. But now along comes Big Wind, propelled by the vision of former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman.

    The vision is one in which the Ontario landscape, including land directly proximate to the Escarpment, is festooned with massive industrial turbines. Suddenly, preserving our agricultural and geographic heritage is less important. Indeed, such values don’t even seem to figure in the debate. Nor has there yet been a serious effort to expand nuclear — still the only way to produce huge quantities of energy without emitting carbon.

    An irony about current-day Ontario: We have a government that says it is deeply committed to environmental protection. If a rare species of dung beetle is unearthed in a marsh, chances are no building will be allowed there. But disrupting the ecosystem of thousands of rural people? Not a problem. Disrupt away.

    There was a good way to bring in wind energy.

    The good way would have respected the wishes of communities that chose not to allow industrial-scale projects. It would have induced industry to offer small, farm-sized wind turbines at a reasonable price. It would have made it much easier for people to use wind (or solar) to satisfy their own energy needs, and sell any excess back to the grid. It would have been a local-first movement.

    Instead McGuinty chose big industry, backed by big government. In doing so he trampled on the most important political idea to hit rural Canada in modern times: Greater local control of the food supply and stewardship of the land.

    No, this revolt will not go away.

    May 13, 2010

    Do the study now

    It is interesting that at the public meetings with the corporate wind energy developers, people who are living in houses near existing turbine installations invite wind developer staff to come and stay overnight in their homes, in order to experience the noise and vibration produced by these machines.

    No one has actually done it.

    In the case of Prowind, Bart Geleynse–we believe–accepted an invitation, but has never actually gone to stay in the home, as he was invited to do. Looks nice before an audience to say that you’ll go, but then you don’t have to follow through.

    An Ontario doctor suggested last year that a simple sleep study would resolve the issue of whether there are health effects from the wind turbine noise, which causes sleep disturbance. We suggest further that the sleep study should involve several groups of people:

    -people currently living next to turbines. Study them at their homes, then move them away for a few nights and study them.

    -people who have never experienced wind turbines. Study them at home first, then move them to homes next to turbines and study their sleep there.

    -people who live in cities and who are exposed to higher levels of ambient noise than rural dwellers. Study their sleep at home in the city, and then move them to homes next to turbines and study their sleep there.

    It is utterly incredible of ministers of this provincial government to suggest that living next to a highway is the same as the whomp-whomp-whomp noise and vibration from industrial wind turbines. But let’s prove it.

    And if the corporate wind developers are so sure they’re right, they should pay for a proper study that actually involves studying people…not just reviews of reviews.

    Or at least, they could sleep in one of the houses overnight, as they have been invited to do.

    May 11, 2010

    Hitting the nail right on the head

    This letter to the editor was published in yesterday’s Toronto Star. the author has succinctly made the point that Ontario already has power generation that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases (hydro and nuclear) and that there are better ways to go about creating cleaner air in Ontario, i.e., public transit etc.

    He fervently counters the “coal is killing people” bogeyman thrown up by the wind industry to appeal to the Liberal-voting masses in Toronto. Most of Ontario’s air pollution comes from industry and transportation, and from industry south of the border.

    Here is the letter:

    Could it be that the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is finally standing up to its political masters at Queen’s Park. It may have objected to the vast amount of money needed for green energy like wind and solar that will do little, if anything, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while reducing the long-term reliability of our electrical grid and reducing our economic competiveness by putting up electricity cost.Much more GHG is coming from the transportation and industrial sectors than from electricity generation. Since 80 per cent of Ontario’s electricity already comes from non-GHG emitting nuclear and hydro generation, money allocated to wind and solar infrastructure could be better spent by electrification of our commuter rail system, building light rail systems, expanding the subway system, making industrial processes more efficient, and making more use of natural gas in transportation rather than in electricity generation.

    Donald Jones, Retired Nuclear Engineer, Mississauga 

    May 7, 2010

    Training the wind industry

    Ever notice that when representatives of the wind development companies are asked questions, they all come up with the same answers? It’s like The Daily Show used to do when George W. Bush was president: they would run clips of government people all saying the exact same thing. Like they were coached. Which they were.

    So how did that go? Maybe like this: We revisit Stan and Dan of the wind development lobby (last seen planning a “health study” in our post, How Did That Conversation Go?).

    Stan: OK, OK, people, let’s return to our seats for the recap of the day… the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can all get to the Beer Garden and the evening’s entertainment, and a draw for a trip by air to Germany!

    Crowd: Hooray!

    Stan: OK. Now, here on the screen in Powerpoint are the main points to remember. You must repeat these as often as possible and make sure you cover them in every media interview. Number one: coal is killing people.

    Crowd: Coal is killing people.

    Stan: Exactly. And how do we know that? Right, the Ontario Medical Association says it is. People are being hospitalized and they’re dying from air pollution which is all from coal. The number isn’t important, you can make that up: 6,000 or 17,000—doesn’t matter.

    Now, number 2: think about the bigger picture.

    Crowd: The bigger picture.

    Stan: That’s right: people might not like wind turbines in their back yards but they have to think about the bigger picture. Wind turbines are going to save the world, because—

    Crowd: Coal is killing people!!

    Stan: Great, you people are good! OK, now, number 3: wind energy is clean and green and good.

    Crowd: Clean, green, good. Clean, green, good.

    Stan: Excellent. Now, last point. There are no health effects from wind mills. People who say there are are having mental problems. Or, they’re upset that they’re not getting any money for having wind mills on their property. Or they’re NIMBYs, you should always say that.

    Crowd: They’re crazy!

    Stan: That’s right, that’s right. Whiners, hypochondriacs. We’re sorry for them, really, they don’t know how to enjoy life. They should have picnics under the turbines—er, wind mills.

    Crowd: Because there’s no noise right underneath!

    Stan: Yes, exactly. One more thing, if any of these people invite you to stay overnight in their house to experience the wind mills, say yes.

    Crowd: WHAT?!

    Stan: Well, you don’t actually go do that, you just say yes, and never really go. OK?

    Crowd: (murmuring)

    Stan: OK, that’s it! Dan, are we ready to party? Yes, folks, we are: everybody into their cars and meet us over at the Beer Garden for our fun night. Don’t worry about the chilly weather, the tents are all heated!

    May 4, 2010

    “Wind power: green and deadly”

    The wind development lobby and our Ontario government keeps claiming that wind development is “clean” and “green”. If you’ve been reading about this issue for months you’ll know it is nothing of the sort (and it doesn’t create jobs either, not in the long-term), but one question that keeps coming up is the effect on the environment, particularly birds.

    On this blog is a review of wildlife related incidents with industrial wind turbines around the world.

    The horrific thing in Ontario is that the wind development companies do their own environmental assessment and to date NOT ONE has been questioned or reviewed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

    To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group directly, go to and/or email

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